It is sad to reflect on the reality that you and I have never been close, as a child; you were always the person I thought had the whole thing sorted.
You had a better way of negotiating the tensions between Mum and Dad, it was simple really; you told either one what they wanted to hear.
You played both sides with an innate political skill, that whilst I envied it in some ways; I could never emulate.
After the note from Madeline, I have been thinking a lot about the violence that so often marked your relationships with Steve, myself and Terry.
If what Madeline says is correct, it would certainly go some way to explaining the violence between you and Steve but it doesn’t really shed any light on what happened between you; and Terry and I.
I can only guess at what drove this violence towards your younger siblings, but certainly; Madeline’s note has given me cause to reflect even more on the “poison” that affected all of us, in many different ways
Debt, doubt, deceit and dichotomy all played a role in creating what Madeline refers to as a “very troubled place”.
The façade for visitors became a way of life; creating a schizophrenic environment we all had to learn to deal with.
A job during the holidays, working with you was almost always destined to end in an explosive argument.
The sheep yards on a warm spring day, was the scene of one such altercation, which now; I can laugh about.
The sheep dip was powered by the flywheel from the tractor; diesel fumes hung heavily, mixing with the dust of the massed sheep and the poisonous odor of the chemicals.
The belt from the flywheel to the motor on the dip kept slipping, adding to the sense of frustration as the recalcitrant sheep found ever increasing ways to obstruct progress through the holding yard and into the circular spray dip.
Temperature and tempers were rising in sync and the F word hung poisonously in the dusty, smoky air.
I can’t remember the breaking point, but it surely came!
You, picked up a length of timber and charged towards me; spittle, spite and expletives were enough to tell me, that now would be a good time to leave.
I hurdled the first fence and charged for the second, inches ahead of the furious, whirling piece of timber.
I could hear the “whoosh” as you swung at me, the clear paddock was in front of me; just six more of the sheep yard fences to go before the danger passed.
The last four fences, forming the races from the shearing shed; were close together; my performance over these would have done an Olympian proud.
My gold medal: the welcoming green of the paddock beyond.
I was on the last fence, with you; just metres behind, when I felt the wind of the thrown timber ruffle my hair.
I heard the “thwang” as it hit the corrugated iron wall of the shed and the “boing” as it stayed embedded in the wall.
“Come back here; you cunt!” were the last words I heard as I dashed across the open ground and headed for the house; my sheep dipping day was at an end!
The timber has been removed, but the last time I was at the farm; the dent in the corner of the wall remained; testimony to your strong left throw.
Mum asked why I was home early, I answered honestly for the first time in my life.
“Jerry tried to kill me”
“You must have upset him!”
The matter was closed.
Going back to the uncertainty and fear of the Farmer’s School suddenly seemed to be far more appealing.
Jerry; there are so many things I will never understand.